kale and pasta


Orecchiette, or little ears, is one of my all-time favorite types of pasta.  These small domes seem to be the perfect size for so many recipes, and the shape lends itself to holding on to sauces extremely well.  I think they look more like little bowls than little ears, but I have a slight problem with anthropomorphized food.  Naming food after a body part is not nearly as disturbing to me as food that talks in commercials, but it still doesn’t really seem right.  No one wants to think about eating a bowl full of little ears, right?  It’s not just me, is it?

I usually cook this dish in the fall, when kale is the only vegetable still growing in Mom and Dad’s garden.  Kale withstands most frost that kills other garden plants, and can actually become sweeter after a few frosty mornings.  When I found a beautiful bunch of kale at the Green City Market in Chicago recently, I knew I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make this recipe in the Spring.



Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

Yields 4 large servings


5-6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1/2 large sweet onion
1/2 head kale, roughly chopped
1 lb. sweet Italian turkey or pork sausage
3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken stock or broth
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. orecchiete pasta
4 Tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (not from the green shaker!)
2-3 pinches red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat medium sized pot to medium high.  Add 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon olive oil and add sausage.  Brown sausage on both sides, about 4 minutes per side, and remove to plate.  When cool enough to handle, cut sausages into 1/2 inch thick rounds.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions to pan, cooking until soft and just beginning to brown, about five minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 1-2 minutes more, and add chicken stock/broth to pan.
  3. In another medium pot, bring salted water to boiling and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions.
  4. Turn heat on onion/garlic mixture up to medium-high and add kale.  Cook for two minutes, then reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes.
  5. Cook tomatoes for 3-4 minutes, then add sausage rounds and turn heat to medium low.
  6. Add pasta to the sauce, adding 1/4 or so of the PASTA WATER to the pan as well.  Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat, add cheese.
  8. Serve with additional cheese sprinkled on each serving, and drizzle remaining olive oil over the finished dishes.

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